On Tuesday, the same day the President addressed Congress and declared that he would “promote clean air and clean water,” Trump signed an executive order pushing the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to “review and reconsider” the Clean Water Rule.
The Clean Water Rule, implemented by Obama in 2015, clarifies which waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act, extending environmental regulations to streams, wetlands and other small waterways that provide drinking water to a third of Americans, some 117 million people. Trump’s order encourages limiting protections to only large, navigable bodies of water.
The rule has been involved in court battles after 31 states and a number of businesses and agricultural groups accused the rule of being a federal government overreach. One of those suits was brought by current Administrator of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, when he was attorney general of Oklahoma. Pruitt, a climate change denier, fossil fuel supporter and collaborator with the oil and gas industry, claims to be a firm believer in expanding state’s rights to make their own decisions on environmental regulations and has made it a staple of his career to do what he can to eliminate federal efforts to save the environment.
A few weeks ago, Trump repealed an Obama era regulation that was meant to protect waterways from coal mining run-offs. His first week as President, he signed an executive action to advance the constructions of both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, disregarding pleas from Water Protectors to reevaluate the environmental impact of the projects that could seriously threaten many people’s water supply.
A December 2016 survey by Pew Research Center shows that 59 percent of Americans believe that strict environmental laws are “worth the cost” versus 34 percent who say they are not.
Media Resources: Huffington Post 2/28/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 2/17/17, 1/25/17; Pew Research Center 12/14/16; Mother Jones 3/1/17.